Surprise! Brazil isn’t the only place to see the Amazon. The largest area of rain forest in the world is also accessible from Peru. Your Amazon adventures can start from either Iquitos or, the place we chose, Puerto Maldonado. Located along the Madre de Dios river, a tributary of the Amazon river, Puerto Maldonado is much closer to Cusco where most Peru travelers will likely end up at some point. It’s only an hour plane ride away or, if you have the time and are traveling on a budget, a 10 hour bus ride which you can probably do overnight.
But for a handful of backpackers, Puerto Maldonado is a simple town with not too many attractions (although the Rescue Snake House by the airport sounded intriguing). The town square, like most town squares, is a place to get a feel for the local flavor (food and otherwise). We happened upon a fun Capoiera class underway at the square on a Friday night – a taste of Brazil in Peru.
Weather: We visited at the end of May during the dry season. The weather was very pleasant and mosquitos were far fewer
Lodging: Prices range from $4 a night for the budget traveler to $30 a night (roughly 12 to 90 soles) for a nicer place. Expect cold showers in the cheaper locations.
Food: The main street leading up to the town square have several little joints to choose from. El Asadazo, a popular spot for locals and travelers, was our favorite though. Once again the proximity to Brazil was evident—the menu had a few Brazilian options as well as a delicious Caiparinha to start our stay right!
Things to do: You can pick from several tour operators located on the main street near the town square for day trips or longer trips that allow you to stay in the jungle lodges on the Tambopata reserve. We booked ahead of time for our trip to Lake Sandoval.
Our tour guides (some of whom did not speak English, so ask ahead of time!) were extremely knowledgeable and very patient as we tried to spot animals in their natural surroundings.
We saw the bare minimum because of our limited time, but the wildlife you can see on the jungle tours are endless (the Macaw Clay Lick seemed especially amazing)! Make time for this part of your trip so you can truly make the most of your Amazon experience and see a side of Peru most tourists will miss.